Cheese For Lunch: 5 New Takes on a Ploughman’s Lunch

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

A ploughman’s lunch doesn’t have to be something that’s only done in England. Because really, shouldn’t making cheese the centerpiece of a meal be a universal concept? Think of it as a deconstructed sandwich.

A ploughman’s lunch is a simple template: pair cheese with some bread, chutney, and maybe some meat or pickles or hard-boiled egg, and call it a lunch. But what about getting a little creative with it? Here are five new takes, showing how easy it is to switch it up.

I love the thought of bringing separate components like this to work. The DIY-ness of the dish brings not only a picnic-like quality to your meal, it guards against the potential of a soggy (or even worse, insipid) sandwich. And it’s easy to put together in the morning before work, because there’s no assembly required. Just throw the separate components in a bag and go.

Classicly, you’ll see a ploughman’s lunch consisting of an English cheese (think cheddar, Stilton, Wensleydale, or Double Glouchester), some crusty bread or baguette, plus a simple chutney or Marmite jam, a hard boiled egg, pickles, and/or some meat.

You’ll be well-equipped to devise your own combinations if you simply think of the construction like this: Cheese + Bread + Spread/Vegetable + Meat/Protein.

Take these ideas and run with them:

1. Stinky n’ Sweet

  • Cheese: Taleggio or Fontina
  • Bread: Baguette
  • Spread/Vegetable: Honey
  • Meat/Protein: Prosciutto

2. Breakfast for Lunch

  • Cheese: Fresh Goat Cheese (Think Coupole, Bucheron, or Fresh Crottin) or Cream Cheese
  • Bread: Dark Rye
  • Spread/Vegetable: Chopped Cornichons or Capers
  • Meat/Protein: Smoked Salmon

3. Blue Meets Bread

  • Cheese: Blue Cheese (think Stilton, Fourme D’Ambert, Roaring 40’s, or Bayley Hazen)
  • Bread: Pugliese or Ciabatta
  • Spread/Vegetable: Olives or Tapenade
  • Meat/Protein: Spicy Soppresata or Salami

4. Turkey Sandwich, with a Twist

  • Cheese: Cheddar
  • Bread: Whole Wheat Roll
  • Spread/Vegetable: Fig Jam and Pesto (the combination is stellar)
  • Meat/Protein: Turkey

5. Hearty Cheese + Sweet Pickles

  • Cheese: Mountain Cheese (think Gruyere, Appenzeller, Comte, Hoch Ybrig, Jarlsberg)
  • Bread: Sourdough
  • Spread/Vegetable: Grainy Mustard and Bread and Butter Pickles
  • Meat/Protein: Hard-Boiled Egg
Think of these options as starting points and get inspired to create your own flavor combinations!

And one other component, nearly always included in a Plougman’s Lunch? Beer. Consider it optional, though recommended.

Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray’s Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and recipe developer in New York.

(Image: Lisovskaya Natalia via Shutterstock.)